If you want your ideal clients to find and read your blog posts, you’re going to need a handful of things in place first. Today, I’m going to share the 10 content brief questions you need to improve your blog writing and get your content in the hands of more potential clients.
Every great blog post you read from a business starts with asking yourself a few hard questions. Because, without a clear plan, your dream article won’t get read by anyone — and it definitely won’t help your business reach your audience.
I’ve written over 200 blog posts in the past 5 years.
At first, most of them didn’t get any traction.
So, I invested the past 2 years into learning content marketing from the pros like Brian Clark, Brendan Hufford, Sonia Simone and others. I spent my first $7 on Copyblogger’s mini-template: The Content Confidence Checklist. That simple content brief worksheet transformed my approach to blogging for business.
I’ve learned that starting with a good SEO content brief is the greatest kept secret of content marketing.
What is an SEO content brief?
According to MOZ, the SEO education giant,
A content brief is a set of instructions to guide a writer on how to draft a piece of content.Kameron Jenkins (MOZ)
Most in-house marketers and entrepreneurs don’t realize the value of a sound SEO content brief. It doesn’t have to be 10 pages long to improve your article. But, it does need to challenge your approach to the content.
A good content brief includes much more than your writing format and style.
If you’re writing content to attract interest in your product or service, and get found online, then your content brief needs to include helpful notes on several related things. You’ll need to do some thorough research on other articles in your space, find insight into your intended reader, and even plan the post-writing distribution steps.
An audience-driven SEO content brief is the best way to build the content your audience is looking for. And, it will help you make certain they find it on search engines as well.
There are 10 essential questions your content brief needs to answer (before starting).
Blog writing for your business is about more than writing good sentences. It’s about building content that connects with your people’s pain points and gives them a small but clear transformation. That’s what moves the needle for your business.
Get these 10 essential things locked down before starting your next blog post, and you’ll earn the trust of your ideal clients. (And, the writing goes way faster.)
1. Who is your intended audience?
Your target client is your north star.
Get extra clear on the person you are writing for, and find out what their deepest dreams and fears are. Without a clear understanding of your audience, your articles will wander and readers will check out.
2. What is their objective (user intent)?
What question or problem are you solving for your reader? And, consider how far along they are in the buying journey.
This requires empathy for the target audience (above), so it might take a bit of research to figure out. Knowing your current clients and customers well is a surefire win here. But, you can also do some Google searching around the topic to see what content is currently leading the pack.
3. What is your primary keyword?
Pick one keyword phrase to focus your article around.
You don’t need to get too nerdy about this. It’s a safety net to help you hyper-focus on the topic, and pick the best title, section headers, etc.
Also, if you’re facing steep competition around your topic, default to ultra-specific. For example:
- “Best running shoes” — broad, highly competitive
- “Best trail running shoes” — still very competitive
- “Best trail running shoes for men” or “best trail running shoes in rain” — great ideas to explore!
4. What are 10 potential headline examples?
Start with a rough topic idea, then write out 10 blog titles to get your brain going.
You’ve already done a little research into a good topic, and you’ve brainstormed on the pain points and needs of your audience. Now, play around with some creative title ideas using this 4U Headline method:
5. What is your content type & tone of voice?
Decide what type of content and tone of voice you need to approach this topic, right out of the gate.
Your audience might be looking for a helpful how-to guide or a simple list of tips for beginners. You might even want to dig into your own experience to share a personal story that builds empathy. Whichever way you go, keep it consistent throughout the article.
6. What will be your call to action?
What is the best next step in your reader’s journey?
Your blog post will stay more focused, and more effective when you start with the end in mind. Provide the next logical step in their search for a transformation.
7. Who will help you promote your article?
Your distribution and promotion plan is just as important as producing the content.
Think about what clients, partners, or industry friends might be willing to share your blog post. If you can get access to their networks initially, that might be the extra push you need to get that SEO momentum started for your article. Better yet, make a list of people who would link to your content as a resource on their site.
Growing backlinks (references) from other websites to your is 100x easier when you consider your promotion strategy from the beginning.
8. Who is your primary competition?
There is almost no reason to write a blog post on a topic unless you can publish something at least as good as the top-ranking articles on Google.
So, make a list of the top articles out there so you know how hard to how high the bar is. Don’t mimic everything they’re doing. Rather, make sure you are publishing something on a higher level.
9. What is your inspiration for this blog post (topic or format)?
Keep a running list of what blog posts are working best.
Now, pick two or three articles to use as inspiration every time you start prepping another blog post. You can find great ideas from companies in other industries and adapt them to fit your situation.
10. What is your timeline?
You need to have a deadline.
Pick a doable publish date and work backward. Mark a few milestone dates along the way, like the date of your first draft, the final edit completed, etc.
The simple truth is that you won’t see any ROI from your content until it gets published. Too many marketers and entrepreneurs put in all the hard work and stop 5 yards short of the goal line—because they hesitate.
Set your publish date and stick to it. You can always improve it later.
Plan today, for easier writing (and business growth) tomorrow.
I hope this list has been helpful.
You got this! With a little bit of planning upfront, the actual blog writing comes naturally—and you’ll be certain people will love it.